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How to Grow Chili Peppers Indoors

Four Methods:PreparationEncouraging Rapid GerminationPlantingCare and Harvest

Container gardeners who want to spice things up and avid fans of hot peppers should both consider growing their own chili peppers. Even if you do not have space to plant the peppers outdoors, many varieties can be grown in pots indoors. In fact, novices may even have an easier time growing chili peppers indoors than outdoors, since growing the peppers indoors allows better control over water, heat, and light—the three key ingredients needed to produce a successful chili pepper crop.

Method 1

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    Select your chili pepper variety. Dwarf ornamental peppers work best for indoor growing, since many of the large varieties may not have adequate room for their roots to develop in indoor containers.
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    Opt for a plastic pot over a clay container. Clays like terra cotta can actually draw moisture out of the soil, especially in the warm, bright conditions required for growing chili peppers. These peppers need a lot of moisture to grow and may dehydrate in a clay pot.
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    Choose a pot with a drainage hole. While chili peppers thrive on vast amounts of water, a drainage hole prevents too much excess water from gathering and drowning or rotting the roots.
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    Sterilize the pot before use. Many containers, especially if previously used, contain hidden bacteria and insect eggs that can sabotage new plant life. Wash your container out with hot water and soap to eliminate most threats.
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    Purchase potting mix. Garden soil often contains bacteria that can damage your pepper seeds, preventing germination or hindering growth. A multi-purpose compost mix purchased from a local gardening store should do the trick, but the higher quality soil you use, the better your odds are of successfully growing your plants.
    • Improve the quality of your soil further by mixing in some vermiculite.

Method 2
Encouraging Rapid Germination

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    Place a handful of chili pepper seeds in between sheets of damp paper towels. The seeds should be in a flat, single layer so that the moisture is evenly distributed.
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    Seal the seeds and paper towels in a container. A plastic container with a tight lid or a large sealable plastic bag works best.
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    Keep the seeds in a warm airing cupboard. Both warmth and moisture are necessary for germination.
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    Check the seeds after two to five days. If they have swelled up, they are ready to plant. Some seeds may even have tiny sprouts shooting through.

Method 3

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    Fill your pot with potting mix. Keep approximately 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of empty space between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot.
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    Plant your seeds in the pot. The seeds should be spaced 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart from one another.
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    Sprinkle loose compost over the seeds. You should only have about 0.2 inches (0.5 centimeters) of compost covering the seeds, just enough provide minimal protection.
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    Spritz the seeds with water. Spray the seeds with water as often as necessary in order to keep the soil moist. Water is essential to chili peppers, especially in the early stages of planting.
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    Monitor your container for seedling growth. Depending on the variety of chili pepper you chose, the first sprout may appear above the soil anywhere between one and six weeks.

Method 4
Care and Harvest

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    Keep your chili peppers near a sunny window. A window that faces west or south may provide the best light and the most warmth. Chili peppers thrive on full sun, so place your plants as close to the window as possible to maximize sun exposure.
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    Invest in a fluorescent grow light. If you are unable to provide your chili peppers with enough natural light indoors, place them beneath a grow light, instead. The lights should be positioned approximately six inches above the plants, and your peppers need the light to remain on for 14 to 16 hours each day in order to receive enough warmth and light.
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    Provide daily air circulation, but keep your peppers away from drafty areas. Open a window or turn a fan on low for a few hours each day. Ideally, the air should remain room temperature to moderately warm. Continual hot or cold drafts could hinder growth, however, so keep your peppers away from air conditioning and heating vents.
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    Thoroughly soak your peppers after sprouts appear above the soil. When the surface of the soil is just barely dry to the touch, give your chili peppers more water. Water the plant until excess water begins to drain out of the container's bottom hole.
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    Encourage growth by giving your plants a vegetable fertilizer on a monthly basis. Use a balanced 15-15-15 fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
    • The three numbers on a bag of fertilizer refer to the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that fertilizer contains. A 15-15-15 fertilizer has equal parts of all three elements, meaning that the foliage, root system, flowers, and fruit of your pepper plant all receive an equal dose of food. Nitrogen improves the foliage, potassium improves the flowering and overall strength of a plant, and phosphorus improves the roots and fruit.
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    Harvest your peppers one at a time. Note the standard size and color—red, orange, yellow, or green—for the variety of chili pepper you chose to plant. Once your peppers reach these specifications, use shears or scissors to snip the stem directly above the pepper. Chili pepper plants can take 90 days after germination to yield peppers that are ready for harvest.


  • You may also plant chili pepper seeds directly into the soil without germinating them first. The seeds will take more time to germinate this way, however, which means that you’ll have to wait a longer time before your peppers are ready to harvest.
  • Be aware that the proper size pot can vary based on the specific variety of chili pepper you plant. In most cases, a 7- to 10-inch pot should be fine, but some larger varieties may need an even larger container to allow for effective root development.
  • Invest in a heated propagator if you want to ensure proper germination. While the moist paper towel method described above works in most cases, a heated propagator has an even higher chance of success.
  • If starting from seed does not appeal to you, simply purchase chili pepper seedlings from a nursery or garden supply store and transplant them into containers large enough to hold a mature version of the plant.
  • You may use regular water for your plants but you may leave it for 10 minutes before watering your plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Chili pepper seeds
  • Plastic pot
  • Potting mix
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle
  • Watering can
  • Fluorescent grow lights
  • Fan
  • Fertilizer

Article Info

Categories: Gardening | Indoor and Patio Plants